The Alps presented a problem. The mountains, spotted with white provincial houses angled on the slopes, flanked our train car. This day of travel was an opportunity to experience rustic clothing and an aestheticization of mountain life so extreme I’m surprised we didn’t go looking for edelweiss—lederhosen and all. But for such dreaming, we hit the concrete wall of practicality early into our journey, up there is country living, thunderous valleys and shadowed peaks—and staring deep into an empty backpack before my fateful trip, the question arises: What to pack?
The freedom of style today has made travel wardrobes much more of a personal statement, an experimental setting to reduce your style to its bare essentials. But that can be confusing, and even daunting. So today, I’m going to try to give a broad runthrough on packing for a weekend trip, adjustable for any length of stay.
A good jacket will always elevate your traveling outfits, bringing everything tastefully together, as well as providing an extra layer for warmth. There are multiple options to choose from here, all of which can be modified on the basis of your personal style. My choice would be a nice sports jacket or blazer, something tweed or woolen in a solid color. On my recent trip to the Alps I wore a slouchy brown three-button wool blazer (my desire for comfort is nonstop) to provide both country airs as well as a warm and comfortable addition for long days of travel. On the more casual end, leather jackets in both the café racer and double rider styles work well with waxed cotton and oilskin jackets, L.L. Bean-style barn coats, and all your denim varieties. Also, fun jackets have equally fun pockets that you can fill to the brim with all your little knick knacks and travel items. Currently, I use mine for sandwiches.
A sweater’s necessity may vary depending on the climate, but can work well as a layering piece or replace the jacket entirely. I would recommend something that goes with all the other items you bring. The standard crewneck Shetlands, chunky shawl collar cardigans, and fair isle sweater vests are all good choices. This is dad-style: a treasure trove for the irony-poisoned minds of our generation or a depressing glimpse into your fast-approaching future.
Having two shirts will provide you with the excitement of options while making sure you’re not left hanging if your airplane meal falls onto you during a bout of heavy turbulence. The sky's the limit for options, but I think the versatility of a button up shirt benefits any travel wardrobe. I would recommend a more casual and comfortable shirt like an oxford cloth or linen button down to project a refined air, but can also be as casual as you would like it to be. Solid colors—white and blue—and some university stripes for the Oxford shirts work for pretty much any wardrobe, but feel free to take risks on more diverse patterns if your style demands it. For linen shirts, the leisurely fit allows one to take some more risks in color and pattern; I would recommend fun summer pastels and inventive designs to echo the general easy air of the spring and summer seasons. If you are looking for something more formal, I would recommend shirts in a heavier broadcloth and to stick to solid colors. A blue shirt and a white shirt with a moderate spread collar will serve you for all non-event wear.
Two Pairs Of Pants:
You might be asking whether having two pairs of pants is overpacking: “Why can’t I just wear my one trusty pair of jeans?” Firstly, travel can be a messy experience and you might want to change out of your skin-tight low-waisted jeans into your skin-tight high-waisted jeans when you get to your destination. Secondly, wearing only jeans gives ‘70s serial killer vibes—very Martin Sheen in Badlands type beat. If jeans are a must, I recommend bringing an alternate pair of casual slacks that’ll fit nicely with the rest of the items you packed. A good pair of chinos in pretty much any color will work here, preferably in a more relaxed fit that’ll be more comfortable to wear during travel over long distances.
Optional: One Topcoat (it's a coat but more fun to say):
Depending on the season this can be an optional requirement, especially in the summer months where this would be the sartorial equivalent of bringing your own bat to your T-Ball game. The most versatile option here would be an all-weather trench coat or Mac coat to keep you protected from all the elements as well as be adjustable to most temperatures. If the climate requires something stiffer, a sturdy Harris tweed balmacaan will keep you cozy and provide the English country peerage vibes all you dark academia kids are going for. If more formality is required, a camel hair polo coat will suffice, which can also be worn casually.
For everything else, it’s your prerogative. Have fun on spring break everybody!